Don't Require Residents Using Electric Wheelchairs to Get Liability Insurance
Don't be tempted to require residents who use electric wheelchairs to get liability insurance to pay for any accidents or injuries their wheelchairs may cause. Even if you think that residents using electric wheelchairs are more likely than other residents to hurt themselves or others at your site, you may have a hard time proving that if a resident ever challenges your policy in court.
Consider what happened to the owner and manager of a Minnesota senior site after they adopted just such a policy. One resident refused to get the insurance and complained to HUD, which then charged the site owner and manager with discrimination under fair housing law. The owner and manager argued that their policy promoted the health and safety of residents by ensuring that electric wheelchair users would have enough money to pay for medical treatment if they injured other residents or guests with their wheelchairs.
The administrative law judge disagreed, and pointed out that the owner and manager didn't show that operators of electric wheelchairs posed a “substantial risk of harm to themselves or others.” He said that the policy was based on “overprotective” stereotypes about the disabled, and ordered the owner and manager to rescind their policy and pay $7,500 in damages to the resident, plus $5,000 in civil penalties to HUD. He also ordered the site manager to personally pay $3,000 in civil penalties to HUD [HUD v. Country Manor Apts., September 2001].
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